Do You Remember?
One question I don’t really like being asked is, “Do you remember 9-11?” Because the truth is no, I really don’t. At least not that well. I was only five years old at the time, and we were spending the night at my Grandma’s house. As soon as the footage started coming in, my mom sent me and my little sister into another room and occupied us with a sing-along VHS. I didn’t really understand what was going on, and many years passed before I truly understood the significance of that day.
Sunday was a tough day for me, for some reason. They were playing a lot of the footage on TV in the early morning hours. My dad switched on FOX News and left to go for a run, and my sisters and I sat there watching it alone while my mom got ready for church. I don’t think I was fully prepared for what I was about to see. As I sat there watching all the clips of the towers falling and screaming people running from the crumbling debris, their faces white with dust, I realized: I’ve never really seen footage from 9-11 before.
Once this fact sunk in, I grew more and more horrified at what I was seeing. People jumping from buildings. Men and women running with their children haphazardly carried in their arms. Phone calls with the panicked last words of parents who would never come home that evening. It was all so unbelievably wrong.
Tears started welling up in my eyes as I stared in shock. It was like it was happening right now–live. My mind couldn’t wrap around the fact that this happened ten years ago. That the rest of the world had already moved on and restored, and were just taking the time to look back on the anniversary. For me, it was like it had just happened.
One thing all the news stations were stressing was the heroism of the firefighters, and all the other everyday civilians who gave their own lives to save the lives of others. For some reason, this was probably the hardest thing for me. I spent a good part of the morning feeling confused and upset. Why? Why would God allow this to happen–to let so many innocent people lose their lives and loved ones as a result of the sick, twisted hatred of one group of men?
It was so troubling to me. It seemed like the biggest tragedy and injustice of all time. The thoughts troubled me all morning. But then, as I was sitting in church, God gave the answer to me. “Today, as we remember the great tragedy that took place ten years ago,” our music director said, “Let’s take time not only to remember all the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in the place of others, but also remember Christ, who sacrificed His perfect life in the place of all.”
That’s when it hit me: 9-11 has a bigger picture. Even in that day, and all its horror and ugliness, I can still see the beauty and mercy of God’s love for mankind. When I look at those crumbling towers, and the evidence of the evil of man, I can see the horrifying death of the cross, brought on by the evil and sin of every man. And yes, I stand amazed at the heroism that mankind showed that day, rescuing people from the burning rubble, but greater still is the amazing love that Christ showed two thousand years ago. Because Christ died not for the innocent, but for the guilty. Christ bore the weight of not the worthy, but the wicked and depraved. And that was me. And that was you.
Tears still well up in my eyes as I write this, thinking about everything that happened ten years and one day ago. I still feel angry, and saddened, and sometimes even a little without hope at the future of our country. But it’s not that way with the tragedy of Christ’s death. Because the death of Jesus didn’t cause more deaths, or years of seeking out revenge upon his executioners. It only led to everlasting life, for those who believe. And when I think of the cross, and how even in the greatest tragedy of all history, God is glorified, I know that He had a purpose for the horrific events of 9-11. And maybe I don’t know what that purpose is right now, but I trust that He will make it known to the world some day. Until then, I can only remember the ones who died, and hope for a brighter future for those who survived.